Ding. Ding. Beeped the overhead seatbelt sign as we encountered another rough patch flying over the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean on a stormy evening.
I was seated at a window and continued to stare in hope of getting a peek of clear sky. With every passing moment, however, the the storm seemed to grow more ferocious as we were engulfed in dark clouds and lightning.
“This is your captain speaking,” called out a voice over the speakers. “We are expecting more turbulence and request everyone to adopt the emergency position if instructed.”
“Meanwhile, please keep your seatbelt fastened and things should be normal soon,” announced the pilot, his voice distinctly lacking conviction. I scanned through the faces of the passengers around me. Families clasped hands, parents were reassuring their young ones and the elderly joined their hands in prayer. Not one of them looked convinced that we would be safe anytime soon as an air of distress prevailed.
I wondered what my parents would be thinking, what my family and friends would be doing, all oblivious to what peril my life, as well as that of the 227 other passengers aboard this aeroplane, was shrouded in. What would they all think if I never made it back? How would they all react? It made me think. I was never quite an optimist.
Suddenly a shuddering sound began to emanate from the starboard side, apparently from the engine and the wing began to dip sharply as well. The nervous silence was shattered by screams as people went into a panicked frenzy, however the plane leveled out again and there was an audible sigh of relief around the cabin. The plane stopped shuddering and everything abruptly seemed normal again. The aircraft was filled with a eerie silence. That’s when we began losing altitude.
Slowly at first, we began losing altitude but the real concern was when we began plummeting with short bursts as we lost altitude rapidly. The cabin lights flickered off and the engines ground to a halt and the emergency lights lit up like fireflies all around the cabin.
The pilot’s announcement only confirmed our fears. We were out of fuel, without a landing strip in sight and landing in the middle of the vast Pacific during a storm did was not a viable option.The nearest island with an airstrip was about half an hour away. It all seemed to play out like one of those action movies.
We weren’t going to make it, said the pessimist in me. Death was imminent and I found myself surprisingly calm in the face of it. I looked around and saw tear streaked faces and lips moving ferociously in prayer, rosaries clasped. I closed my eyes. Took a deep breath and let the fact sink in and it frustrated me. I wished I could tell all the people who mattered to me and tell them I was calm and prepared to die and that I would miss them, thanking them for everything. Of course this all was not possible so I plugged in my earphones and played some soothing music. My head swirled with memories as I sat in deep thought. I could feel death’s icy breath over my shoulder.
The plane stalled in the sky and then proceeded to plummet into a rapid drop. A deafing cacophony of prayers and screams erupted and all at once nothing.
Unbroken silence, a feeling of peace and serenity. Death’s chilly arms wrapped around us in an emotionless embrace and it was over just like that.